So far it's going well; despite minor pieces of chaos here and there. We forgot the blank badges, but it turned out that they sold 'Hello, my name is' badge stickers downstairs. The bookstore got sent the wrong books, so after the keynote speech, there were no Desai books to buy -- but they'll have them today, and for last night, they offered bookplates to be signed and free shipping to anyone who bought Desai's books. They bought the wrong size video camera tapes for VOR, but we had enough to pass some on to them. So every small crisis got handled, and people seem to be having a really good time.
The panelists have been uniformly very sweet (two of them brought me totally unnecessary presents! :-) and great -- good speakers, good readers, etc. and so on. Everything you'd want in a panelist. I've really enjoyed meeting them, and am sad that three of them have had to leave already due to other commitments -- Shobhan and Sugi and Sankar. Would have loved to spend more time talking with them. Ah well -- at least they managed to make it for part of the festival. I'm really looking forward to Shobhan and Sugi's books coming out in the next year; I even made Sugi promise to e-mail me an early copy when it's been handed in and signed off on, because it's about Sri Lanka and politics and I really do want to read it ASAP!
Speaking of Sri Lanka, I was *thrilled* to meet Shyam Selvadurai yesterday, and I hope I don't sound too much like a geeky fangirl if I say that he is just like I imagined he would be -- smart and funny and sweet and just fabulous. (He'd actually be a great keynote speaker hiimself, I think.) Finally meeting him makes me dream idly about the day, perhaps a decade or so from now, when we can have a Sri Lankan diaspora writers' event, and I can drag Michael Ondaatje and Michele de Kretser and all the new writers I haven't heard of yet because they're not published yet to join me and Sugi and Shyam and Pireeni and Leah Lakshmi and Marian for a Sri Lankan extravaganza. How cool would that be? :-)
Another lovely thing about yesterday is that Jed arrived, and he's been a huge help, staffing the registration table during a blank spot, hauling stuff around that I'm not supposed to be carrying. I'm not sure how much fun he's having on his vacation so far, but if he survives the next two days, then he can start actually relaxing. :-) In the meantime, we're glad he's here -- our first shift registration person today has called in sick, but luckily, Jed can fill in. It does mean he'll have to miss breakfast with Anita Desai at Wishbone, which is sad. Ah well.
Anita Desai, by the way, is marvellous. A very articulate speaker, who gave a great talk, and was charming during the Q&A afterwards. I was so tired by that point, I couldn't focus properly on every detail of her talk, which was spoke beautifully about exile and immigration, but we recorded it, so I can watch it again later, when I'm more awake.
I'm holding up okay in terms of energy, though I was crashing pretty hard by 7-ish. I managed to hold up long enough to wrap up my responsibilities for the day, then drove home. Jed came back with me, and we tried to watch a sitcom, but I fell asleep partway through. So he sent me upstairs to bed and went back to his hotel and I took a Benadryl and despite my sore throat having turned into a hacking cough, managed to fall asleep and sleep hard for about nine hours. That will hopefully get me through today.
So far, my only real regret is that so far we're been a little under-attended; it's frustrating to put on a fabulous, entertaining, informative show, and to know that there are tons more people in the city who would love it, and to not have them there. But there's generally been enough people to make a decent audience for each panel/reading/etc., so that's good. And if we do this again (hah!) I think the main lesson we've learned is that we need to start serious publicity much earlier. We actually did hire a publicist in the last few weeks before the festival, and she helped us get some stuff done, but we should have hired her three months before the event started, clearly. We'll know better next time.
What's most satisfying is all the people coming up and telling me how much they're loving the festival. The writers who are so appreciative to have this kind of venue to showcase their work, the aspiring writers in the audience who say things like, "I didn't realize there was so much I didn't know...", sounding bewildered but grateful, and of course all the readers, who are just so happy to be sitting around talking books and writing with authors and others. :-) That's what gives a festival organizer a lovely warm glow. Hopefully, today will go just as well.